Clive Pownceby of EDS
reviews Gleowien by Vicki Swan & Jonny DyerThis fourth duo release since the demise of former band Serious Kitchen sees Vicki and Jonny throwing all the right shapes in what is a bold and fully-realised work. Building on the strengths evidenced on 2007’s Sliptease, they’re on solid ground with a mix of trad and own-writes plus a variety of instrumentation that takes in Scottish small pipes and Swedish nyckelharpa (Vicki) with guitar and accordion (Jonny). Vocals come courtesy of both and there’s plenty of creativity in evidence here, rather than arty experimentation for its own sake. The record begins and ends on a visceral high with the title track being a simmering instrumental set, while the traditional pipe tunes, termed ‘Trad II’, that close proceedings have a sense of quiet turmoil that’s similarly potent.
Elsewhere there’s an incongruously jaunty, yet noteworthy, version of Child no.3 (‘Fause Knight On The Road’) in ‘William’, contrasting with the sun-dappled ambience of Jonny’s ‘Follow Me Home’ and demonstrating how Swan and Dyer get it just right with a good balance of the slightly muscular with the subtle/gentle. Together they fashion some perfectly weighted, tasteful music that’s an object lesson in less-is-more.
Hardly putting a foot wrong, focused and with a deeper ambition whilst remaining egoless and enjoyable, this is rightly an album that takes itself seriously and aptly mirrors its title –verb, ’to make music, to make merry’ (Middle English). You suspect that Swan and Dyer are only just coming into their own.